I found myself one evening staring blankly at Netflix, like peering into an open refrigerator at midnight as I stand in my tighty-whities searching for meaning in a pile of Christmas left-overs, the soft door bulb bathing my body in unflattering light while I absentmindedly scratch my left buttock.
Then I saw Thor: Ragnarok sitting there. Lately, Netflix has become a little more YouTube-ish with the random disappearances of your favorite items, but this time the churn was in my favor. I had been meaning to watch Ragnarok since forever. Granted, I’m not the biggest Marvel fan. I find the movies to be too kinetic, and although I attribute the rapid pace to modern CGI, I have to also admit that my creaking bones play a role as well. (The weather channel has been looking more fascinating to me lately.) So I clicked “play” with low expectations.
Almost from the word go, my expectations were exceeded. Ragnarok has a very different feel from the previous Thor movies. Marvel seems to be applying the lessons from the success Guardians of the Galaxy: let the characters have some fun. Matt Damon’s cameo made me laugh out loud, and I couldn’t help but to snicker whenever Jeff Goldblum appeared on frame, laying his signature bohemian smugness on thick as the Grand Master. Unexpectedly, Thor himself is a constant source of amusement, Chris Hemsworth threading the needle between silliness and bicep-based charisma. (And Odin’s Beard, those biceps. I found myself more willing to exercise the next day.)
Another thing they got right: Color. Almost all the shots in Ragnarok are an explosion of audacious colors. The whole movie looks like a pride flag, as do all of its posters. The art department was clearly having a blast with the ending credit sequence as well. And the result is glorious. I, for one, am sick to tears of the “dark gritty” trope, and this movie blows that look away with a sawed-off shotgun full of glitter.
Also, the music: Electronic dance beats and Led Zeppelin? Did they read my freaking mind?
Best of all, the film’s humor and color don’t seem to lower the stakes. The escape scene near the end of the movie had me on the edge of my seat in a way that super-hero movies rarely achieve. And the main baddie Hela is bad news. Hela, played by an apocalyptically-attired Cate Blanchett, is out to take over the cosmos. As a huge Peter Jackson LOTR fan, I can’t help but to glimpse Galadriel in all of Cate Blanchett’s roles, and Hela is presumably what Galadriel would look like if the latter ever got ahold of the Ruling Ring. She sports a demonic hairdo and her fighting style can be best described as “sword volcano”.
Another refreshing difference was that Thor and his brother Loki are mostly on the same team for this particular romp, the odd double-cross aside. Loki saves the day by showing up with a giant spaceship at the critical moment along with Korg, a wonderfully pedantic blue rock monster. I know the detente between Loki and Thor won’t last. Loki is, after all, a complicated character with a whole stew of unresolved issues, but it’ll be exciting to watch that character grow. And speaking of growth, I loved how Thor is forced to grow after the loss of his hammer. Now he really is the god of thunder, and he can apparently summon arbitrary amounts of it. His fights with Hela were memorable, and when he lost an eye you knew that both parties had real skin in the game.
All in all, Thor: Ragnarok kind of made me believe in movies again. It’s still possible for a truly crazy movie to get made, even though the accountants at the studio probably went along with the enterprise kicking and screaming. In fact, it does something that I haven’t experienced in a long while, which is actually make me want to see it again and again.
Lazy Nerd says: Hell yes. Hell to the “yes” power. Hell log base “yes”. This movie was super cool.